Transparency Pilot in Court of Protection

Transparency Pilot in Court of Protection.

The Court of Protection was set up to deal with very personal and sensitive matters. But that has created a reputation for secrecy and great suspicion. Even though the initial intention was to protect the privacy of those individuals the Court was set up to protect.

Therefore the Court of Protection Rule Committee has formulated a practice direction for the operation of a pilot transparency scheme.  This will allow both the risks and benefits of relaxing the rules governing the press and public attendance at hearings in the Court of Protection to be tested. Currently, nearly all hearings take place with only those directly involved in the case attending. The Press and public have no access, breeding suspicion. Whilst the national press can glean useful information from anonymised reports.  However there is no mechanism for local press to discover and publicise issues which might be of more local interest (we’re not commenting on whether that is god or bad!)

The pilot transparency project will allow members of the press or public to attend in most cases.  But the CoP may make a specific court order prohibiting this in individual cases. The pilot will mean the court making, as standard (unless inappropriate in a particular case), an order allowing for a public hearing but imposing restrictions on identifying in any report or other publication the person who is the subject of proceedings (they will be known as ‘P’).

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service will also change the way in which court lists are published.   During the pilot, they will provide a short description of what the case is about. This will help the press decide if a particular case may be of general interest and worth reporting.

Transparency Pilot in Court of Protection Test Period.

The transparency pilot will run in all regions of England and Wales, from January 2016 for at least six months. It may be extended to allow for the changes to be fully and carefully considered.  A proper benefit and disadvanatage report will be made before permanent changes are made. There may be issues of accomodation (Court room too small) in cases of general interest, and also with press complying with the spirit of the pilot.

The daily Court of Protection list is displayed here:

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/court-lists/list-cop